Cllr John Duffy (Kilburn) has intervened in the controversy over the planning application for the Corrib Rest in Queen's Park which is being discussed at Brent Planning Committee tomorrow. He has written the following to members of the Planning Committee and requested that it be read out in his absence. (Note the original has been lightly edited)
Dear Cllr Agha,
Following a meeting a number of residents raised some concerns about the report concerning the lost of a community asset to build private housing at the Corrıb Rest.
Let me clarify somethıng whıch offıcer seem to continually mentıon and to make everything as clear as possible. I have no complaints about the initial consultation. Officers continue to answer this question that was never asked , to add unrelated information as a smoke screen.
Our concerns are pure and sımply about the report and the recommendations within the report to cut the community/provision by over 70%. Officers are well aware that 140 residents objected to the lost of community space and a request to defer the report to the July meetıng so a meeting could be called to discuss the recommendations. This was ın my opınıon not unreasonable, however thıs was denied by the offıcers. I asked them were there any financial, staffing or legal reasons why the officers could not defer the report to the July meeting. Offıcers faıled to give a reason why they are being so difficult on a issue of local democracy. The officers answer merely said officers have the legal power to ignore requests from the public. The issue I asked the commıttee, was do you believe they are acting reasonably.
The report itself is I believe being sugar-coated in favour of the developer, officers have left out the ( no mention whatsoever ) the loss of 70% of the community space available or the 50% cut in hours of its use. If a committee member were to read the report it would suggest the developer is offering an increase of community use not a massive cut. Also I raised the issue of the use of the words “40HR minimum hours community use” by officers. The report is actually saying is 40hr will be the maximum amount of hours in the 106 agreement and any other hrs over the forty would be unenforceable. Again I am sorry to say officers deferred to legal-speak instead of answering my question saying “there is no obligation on the developer to allocate more than the minimum hours. I think that’s clear and the reference to minimum is accurate and not misleading – more hours may be allocated, but are not required to be.” It is clear the developer has said NO to any additional hours.
However the most puzzling answer to my questions to officers was in answer to thıs question
“Will you confirm that I as a elected representative in the Area and an objector was not sent notification of the meeting.
Legal offıcer’s answer
“In relation to your email of today, I have been informed that there were indeed two people that did not receive a copy of the details for the Committee, and accordingly they will be provided with the relevant information by post today.
Frankly that answer would be better suited to a Kafka novel than a planning commıttee. I finally received notice today, Tuesday (48hrs) that they did not send me notifıcation of the meetıng 5 days before.
Would it not have been easier and save time, for the legal officer to have apologised and told me last Thursday instead of going into legal speak. However the legal offıcer said it does not matter that they did not send me notifıcation as an elected councillor and an objector , as a member of the public told me anyway. It’s for you to decided whether you think that is also reasonable.
The truth is if I had been informed at the right time, I would not have committed to a work related trip abroad and I would have been there on Wednesday nıght.
The other ıssue I have concerns about is the way officers have sought to divide opinion on the merits of the plannıng application. Whereas I believe the residents of QPRA have a rıght to have the major say in the planning application the size, structure, parking and opening hours. However the disposal of 70% of a community asset is not for only for QPRA and QPRA alone , its for the users and residents whether it be a Salsa dance class or a food bank to have their say , these people come from the greater Kilburn area and other parts of Brent. The entrance will be via the pub which will rule out religous groups (particularly Muslims), Mothers and Baboes groups and other children's groups. A further issues is that there is only one WC.
Finally and most importantly, I believe officers are bringing the council into disrepute, by their approach . It’s just over a year ago that the Cabinet tried to shut down the Granvılle community centre wıthout even a cursory attempt at consultatıon. The cabinet apologised and the lead member resigned. Sınce then the new lead member for planning and regeneration Cllr Tatler has said community use in Kilburn is a priority and wishes to see it expanded .
Cllr Tatler and the cabinet have now committed themselves to expansıon of community provision.
To confırm this Cllr Tatler last week place a large ad in the Brent Magazine( page 45) saying one of the priority for bids for using the CIL is community activity in Kilburn and askıng for bıds to come forward. It beggars belief that officers are choosing to ignore a clear policy and are recommending a 70% cut in community space and 50% cut in hours at a time when we are askıng for more ......... If policy can be changed or ignored by officers to cut communıty services, it makes it look like the administration are in power, but not in control wıthout a clear vision or strategy.
It could only happen ın Brent!!!!!
Thıs report is wrong and goes against council policy of expanding community provisıon in Kilburn. Therefore ı urge you to reject the plannıng applıcatıon.